Yowah Opal from Yowah, Australia are famous for their deep strong ironstone with fantastic patterns and inclusions of colour.
Yowah Opal is well-known for its attractive and exclusive Yowah Opal nuts which cannot be found elsewhere in the world. These ‘nuts’ range from about 5mm to 200mm and tend to be found in a spherical shape.
Yowah Nuts Opal have particularly breath-taking inclusions of color, making them highly sought-after by opal collectors. These nuts can be very deceiving at first sight as they can look like ordinary stones but when they are opened, they transform into a magical and colourful stone.
The Yowah Opal Field area was first leased in 1883 to miners and Opals are still are a significant part of the local economy. The Yowah Opal fields also produce other kinds of opal such as Pipe Opal, Opal Matrix, Seam Opal and Yowah Nuts.
Yowah is famous for its fossicking sites which are not far from the main road. Every year the small opal mining society in Yowah celebrates its opal festival. This usually features several large opal collections including the famous Yowah Nut.
Yowah Opal fields are mostly worked by hand instead of large machinery. While a few open-cut mines have recently opened for large-scale mining, many Yowah Nut Opals are still found by fossicking. Many opal miners are 1-2 man operations.
The Yowah Opal festival, held mid-July, features a jewelry competition to showcase these beloved opals.
Recently my mate purchased a bucket of Yowah nuts for $500. It is common for these buckets to sell for thousands and its a gamble to see if the nuts show any colour worth cutting and polishing into stones. Yowah nuts with colour are very valuable but my mate sliced this bucket up and found no colour! Just expensive patterns. Buying virgin rough is always a gamble.
Black opals have risen in value each year as they are becoming scarcer. Even though black opals will probably keep increasing in value I believe the real opportunity for investment may be Koroit and Yowah boulder opals. Yowah and Koroit are less rare than black opals but just not as well known. When considering an investment stone, the collector would like to buy an investment at the minimum price and hopes the investment will increase in margin. The initial price is not as important as the percentage of increase. If someone bought a Koroit stone for ten dollars and after five years could sell the stone for $100 dollars that would represent a 10 fold increase (purchase power with inflation removed) in margin.
Sorry to say to the black opal investors out there that the upper end of black opals will probably not increase ten fold (purchase power with inflation removed) in the next century. Yowah and Koroit opals, on the other hand, have the opportunity to increase in value vastly due to the relative low cost. The big question is are Koroit and Yowah opals desirable enough to justify an increase in value?
The answer is a resounding YES.
One of the favorite opals I own is a 30 carat Koroit opal that has a dark almost black surface covered in fractal like veins with each vein being able to change colors sometimes 6 times! There is also crystal opal on the surface that would rival the whitest opal with color change of every color in the rainbow. The reds look volcanic red and the stone looks like it is lit from within with red fire crackling on the surface with shifting positions of the opal. I have seen many black opals in my time and I have not honestly seen a black opal costing less than $2000 dollars that is more beautiful than my Koroit boulder. My opal cost $150 dollars.
Yowah and Koroit opals are unique in that the patterns and colors are usually very pure.
The colors are prismatic with the red being laser red, indigo being electric indigo, etc. The opal in the veins frequently make the stone look like its lit from within and the vein patterns are a delight to look at and the color play as mesmerizing as black opal.
I have seen Yowah nuts that look like lightning is crackling across a 40mm long surface over with over 50% of the surface glowing with matrix fire. These stone look like they a powerful light source beaming out of the veins and the striking patterns in rival the beauty of Chinese letters in precious black opal. Another nice fact about Boulder opal is that the nature of the stone will make it virtually impossible for the gemstone to be “created” diluting the inventory of real opals. I would urge the reader to go to a major auction site that sells opals and put in the search string “boulder opal video” without the quotes of course. Then find an opal that you think is attractive and browse the offerings by the same seller and make sure to look at the video. Most of the quality products will include a video.
Right now Germany is the largest consumer of boulder opals. Germany is a progressive country whose citizens enjoy the fractal like quality, interesting color and fire of Yowah and Koroit opals. I believe it is a matter of time before many people will consider boulder opals more interesting than traditional stones that look like glass, i.e. diamonds and rubies, etc. I would also keep an eye out for the Asian opal market.
Koroit opal fields are really just next door to yowah opal, so it is bit confusing to buyers. Asians have long treasured multi-colored objects, many through the practice of Feng Shui. Ammolite, an organic gemstone similar to boulder opal, has taken off in Asian countries and there is no reason why boulder opal shouldn’t do the same. It’s all about marketing and luck. Even though only a very marginal percentage of the opal exported from Australia is boulder opal, the supply is certainly more prevalent than black opal. This means that enough products will be available to increase the attractiveness of investment, but not so much as to diminish the investment quality. The increasing global nature of the gemstone business means that boulder opals will finally get their shot to gain the respect they deserve and become premiere investment stones.
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